What is perfectionism
Before we dive into perfectionism, I want to share a memory of being a “proud perfectionist”.
Because once upon a time, I wholeheartedly believed this was a fantastic quality to have.
I remember when I was at the beginning of my 20’s I was actively looking for a job, mostly because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life yet.
But I remember as I was applying for jobs and writing my applications that I would proudly put the word “Perfectionist” in there.
Looking back, I didn’t understand the whole meaning of what it meant to be a perfectionist – not until I started my business did life truly show me how much this “little trait” had held me back (that’s a story for another time)
But needless to say, the employers weren’t impressed with my emphasis on my perfectionistic quality on my applications, and it took a while before I finally got a job (how I don’t remember, but someone must have overlooked it)
Now I am not out to say that being a perfectionist is all bad.
I’m just saying you should probably avoid putting it on your job applications.
So what is perfectionism exactly?
Well, to quote the famous writer, Brené Brown:
Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be our best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievements and growth: It’s a shield (that protects us from fear of judgement, shame, blame and being seen)Brené Brown
How being a perfectionist affects your goals and dreams
Perfectionism is a sneaky occurrence, and often we aren’t even aware that our perfectionism has taken control when we’re in the middle of doing something that sets our souls on fire.
It could be a launch, a new exciting offer, a website makeover, content creation, or simply just answering back a message to an ideal client or prospect.
You feel you can genuinely help, and you feel super excited about this new offer, idea or opportunity. You might even believe for a moment that “This time I WILL make it happen” because you feel in control and you have “Finally figured out your life and have clarity”.
Or so you think…
Because suddenly, after a few hours or days, the clarity gets cloudy, the momentary excitement has worn off, and you’re suddenly unsure of where you should put your focus.
So in fear of getting behind, you suddenly find yourself diving into the most meaningless task at hand.
(You know… the one that doesn’t move the needle towards your dreams but has you convinced this is the most urgent thing to do( when indeed organising your Pinterest boards isn’t really what will propel you forward.
You might even find yourself realising (after 6 hours of working on your Pinterest page) that you just spent an ocean of time getting nowhere further.
And in comes the overwhelm.. feeling frustrated, having lost all focus, and you finding yourself having halfway given up.
But not quite…
Because although your mind wants to give up, there’s still a part of it that’s obsessing over the thought of “What else can I do?” To move forward.
But in this foggy mindset, no good ideas come forward; you’re indecisive, still stuck at your desk, hands to the headlong enough until you finally decide to leave it for the day.
Again… or so you think.
Because the rest of the night will be spent with overwhelming anxiety, sadness and maybe even a frustrated cry over how far behind you feel and being hard on yourself.
You start to question if you’re even cut out for this, fears and self-doubt kick in and what initially started with excitement, dreaming of the perfect future of being successful, at peace, having the ideal home. Multiple vacations a year are long gone and buried underneath fears and deeply rooted feelings of being unworthy, incapable and other negative beliefs and thoughts about yourself.
This is the brutal reality of how perfectionism leads to procrastination and how it can stop you from achieving your dreams, and as much as I hate to say it, it’s the direct line to failure-land.
You have to break out of this cycle if you want to.
Although you understand the cycle of perfectionism, there are still some other traits to be aware of. Only through awareness and catching ourselves being in this destructive cycle can we break it.
Traits of a perfectionist
- You start to procrastinate, which causes overwhelm that results in anxiety.
- You fear of being seen (and therefore never show up)
- You fear not being good enough (and try to overcompensate in your work)
- You are hard on yourself if you haven’t had a productive day
- You have a hard time relaxing and letting go of the day (especially if you don’t do “enough”)
- You have trouble making decisions (with what to focus on, what to do, and you, therefore, end up procrastinating)
Tips to overcome perfectionism
Questions for making decisions easier
No, I don’t just mean to decide out of the blue (unless that works for you), but I doubt it since decision making is probably making you worried due to fear of making a wrong choice or decision – so you might end not make any decisions at all. Am I right?
But here’s the thing.
Using the tactic not to make any decisions about the problem you’re facing doesn’t help the problem grow smaller.
In fact, the longer it is there, the bigger the problem will probably get.
So here’s what you can do:
Don’t go into panic mode. What is done in fear will never produce the best outcomes.
So a good thing you can do is to try and sway your emotions to the side for a moment and look at the bigger picture and ask yourself:
- How important is this decision?
- Will it matter in 5 years?
- Can it be reversed, changed or adapted after making it?
- What can you do (if worst-case scenario) you DO make the “wrong” decision?
I want you to especially notice the last question because if we always have a game plan for our worst-case scenarios, what is there left to fear?
Fear is based on a lack of knowing what will come or what to do so that you can take away its power by coming up with a plan!
Follow through on your actions
Let me ask you this.
How many times have you started a project and not finished it?
It could be a book you’ve started, a course you’re taking, a new hobby you started?
I’m just going to assume that you know what I’m talking about.
I’m not the one to tell you that consistency is only a trait belonging to non-perfectionists.
Because that is simply not true.
That is just the human condition to be that way.
But it doesn’t mean you can’t fight against it and overcome it.
I know I like switching between tasks, but how much further is that going to propel me forward to my dreams if I keep switching between tasks and never finish them?
So if you have recently started a new project, you can still honour who you are, but find a way to put into your calendar the days you’d like to work on this project and then STICK to it, and maybe even have a finish-date in mind.
That way, you can move forward on your goals, finish your projects and not let your perfectionism get the best of you.
And let’s be honest.. How good would it feel to complete it?
Remember the end goal
Now that we’re in the area of talking about goal-setting.
I think it’s essential for you to remember the reason(s) you want to achieve this goal, project, and why you want to follow through on it?
What will it allow you to do?
How would it make you feel?
What would you see by the finish line?
What will people around you say to you?
Always keep in mind your end goal to spark your motivation to finish and reach your goals!
Make progress, not perfection
Furthermore, moving past perfectionism and moving towards your dreams doesn’t mean it’ll be an easy, smooth ride after you’ve read this post.
But should you get stuck.. whether you’re making a decision or starting a new project and finding yourself stuck and not feeling motivated by the end goal.
Then the simplest thing you can do is find one area of your life, business or project in which you feel you can make progress.
Don’t overthink what that action might be or what project it should be.
Simply let yourself feel what you feel compelled the most towards doing and start!
Eliminate self-doubt and start to believe in yourself
Lastly, I want to emphasize the importance of believing in yourself and your mindset around achieving.
You will have some deep-rooted beliefs stemming from childhood that have affected you, and it’s a big reason you are a perfectionist today.
But I want you to know that beliefs can be changed.
Perfectionism is, as earlier mentioned, just a shield rooted in fears and your beliefs around being judged, seen, shamed or blamed that often comes from our childhood experiences of how we grew up and learned how to act and behave to get love.
It doesn’t mean you will always be a perfectionist and you can’t achieve your dreams.
You absolutely can, and you deserve to!
But you need to recognize it when it happens, take imperfect action and believe you can achieve anything you desire.
Because you can!
But, if you’re still unsure of how to eliminate self-doubt, then I have the perfect solution for you!
Simply book a call with me here. That way, we can discuss your options of how you can move past your feelings of self-doubt and step into the true you who believes not only she is worthy of achieving it all. Still, we WILL make it happen without any of your perfectionism tendencies getting in the way of your dream life.
I hope these tips will help you on your journey towards more self-belief and ditching perfectionism for good!
For more ideas on things that can help you with perfectionism check out:
If you have any questions, then let me know in the comments or write me an email.
If you are someone struggling with moving forward on your dreams, projects, personal goals or in your business, then you have to read what I am about to say, because I am positive this post will have life changing effects for you.